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Offering

part 18 of Threshold


The lightning does not disturb their sleep; nor the heat, the tension or the thunder. Only Vaan's warning shout. 

Her amusement is that they wake in precisely the same way. His hand rests relaxed on her hip; her hands, curled between them, do not twitch or flex. Their eyes meet, the same grey in the lightning-shattered dark, the same height when taken horizontally.

'Shall we-' Fran begins.

'Of course.'

Basch rises, his fingers a memory on her skin. Gathers his clothes. He leaves the tent without dressing, and the skies break open exactly then. She hears his muffled curse - as expected. She does not hear his well-trained step, also as expected. She hears then nothing but the rain, heavy against the humidity.

Her delight is that he acknowledges her concern, that the others might see him come out from her tent. That their comment, while not hurtful, is unwelcome. Her desire for their ignorance is not embarrassment or another deceptive wile, but...only what it is.

A pleasure, unexpected, that he knows this without the words she still does not have to give him.

Fran dresses swiftly in a light shift, armourless for the sake of time, and follows. The flickering light of an entite casts the camp in a cold glow, punctuated by lightning stabs. Vaan guards against it, rain moulding his hair to his skull, youthful tension ready to unfurl in any direction should the entite strike. The entite drifts towards him. The boy is brave, and does not falter in his stance. Balthier joins him, shirtless, barefoot, gleaming in the wet, gun in hand. Ashe stands by Penelo under the shelter of a tent's awning, the two watching, silent, faces cast in marble, in silver.

Concentrating against the melodic pull, that enticing pulse of Mist that the being contains, Fran cannot detect its malice.

Behind her, Basch clears his throat; again she had not heard his approach. She turns, he bows, formal despite his bare chest though he has taken the time to don his shorts if nothing else. Across one arm he holds an array of steel drawn from their armoury; Runeblade, Deathbringer, Stoneblade, Durandal. The length of the blades balance along his forearm, crossed at one point and fanned at the ends. In the surreal glow she sees the strain of their weight only in the tense line of his bicep, his shoulder; his face gives away nothing.

'It is not malicious,' she says, although those blades beckon as much as the Mist's call from within the entite.

In that cold light she sees Basch's eyes glinting like the steel. Rain flattens his hair, light turns the gold to a colder metal. His grin flashes, so rare, like the sight of a wild beast in domesticated lands.

She knows his hunger. Has seen it, barely slaked by Vossler. Never slaked by Balthier. But this...

'Perhaps it needs encouragement,' he says.

Her wonder is that he knows her hunger, too.

Durandal will serve her height best, although perhaps she should not take it as it is his preference when he does not default to the greatswords instead. She takes Deathbringer instead, the hilt, the weight, familiar in her hand. No other bouquet could please her as much as this steel one.


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